This project is part of OzFish’s Landcare partnership, in collaboration with Richmond Landcare and Tuntable Landcare. It also received funding support from NSW Recreational Fishing Trusts.

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The mystery of the enigmatic Prehistoric Lungfish

Australian Lungfish are extremely rare, only inhabiting a few river systems in south-eastern Queensland, and this species has never been discovered in New South Wales. These creatures thrived during the dinosaur ages, going back 300 million years. They are known as living fossils as they are the closest living relatives to Tetrapods – the group of animals that gave rise to all the land vertebrates that we know today.

If the sightings are confirmed, this will open the doors to potential large-scale habitat restoration in these waterways to protect these ancient and unique species.

Reports from the Tuntable Creek community sparked intrigue

The OzFish Richmond River Chapter teamed up with Richmond Landcare to investigate when Tuntable Landcare approached them with reports of sightings of the Australian Lungfish in Terania Creek and Rocky Creek.

Cutting-edge eDNA technology

Diving below the surface, OzFish undertook eDNA sampling to determine the presence or absence of Lungfish in the spots where the Lungfish were spotted. As fish move through the environment, they leave traces, such as skin flakes and mucus, which mixes easily in the water. This water is then sampled and sent off to the lab for testing.

An opportunity to learn new skills

OzFish also taught local volunteers and community members how to undertake water bug sampling and how to capture baited underwater remote video footage. These activities allow us to monitor the health of the waterway, and understand more about what species live in the area. If you would like to learn more about how these work or how you can test your own waterway, please check out our Fisher Science Tackle Box.

Unfortunately, the results indicated that there were no Lungfish in the area, however, it was a great opportunity to engage the wider community and learn more about the microbiota in the waterway.


AUGUST 2023 | In Search for the prehistoric lungfish - exploring Tuntable Creek’s secrets 

OzFish Unlimited volunteers recently teamed up with Richmond Landcare in search of the elusive prehistoric lungfish after there were reported sightings in northern NSW. Why is that significant? Well, the lungfish has not been in the area for millions of years and the endangered native species is only found in small sections of Queensland.  After the floods of 2022 caused major damage to the Tuntable Creek ecosystem, 25km north of Lismore, a resident said he saw a lungfish in the waterway and his clear description was backed up by another local so members of the Richmond Landcare group decided to investigate.  Richmond Landcare volunteer Emily

Find Out More

The project is part of OzFish’s Driving Fish Habitat Action partnership with Landcare NSW, with funding support from the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust and BCF – Boating, Camping, Fishing.